How AAAHC's orthopedic certification can take your ASC to the next level

The Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care is helping orthopedic centers demonstrate their mastery of total joint procedures through its new orthopedic certification program for ASCs.

The group is offering accredited centers a chance to earn certification as a Center of Excellence in Orthopedics as of Jan. 1, 2018.

In a Dec. 14 webinar, hosted by Becker's Healthcare and sponsored by AAAHC, Meena S. Desai, MD, an anesthesiologist and chair of AAAHC's orthopedic certification technical panel, and Troy Sparks, BSN, RN, CNOR, AmSurg's regional vice president and total joint program coordinator, discussed the certification program, elaborated on the differences between certification and accreditation, and reviewed the certification process in depth.

Becoming a certified Center of Excellence

The certificate is specialty focused. It centers on evaluating care and improving outcomes for specific populations.

During the certification process, an onsite survey will evaluate a center on a variety of processes and deliver an executive summary and a preliminary report the day of the survey. AAAHC aims to provide a full report within two weeks of the survey, including their final recommendation.

The orthopedic certification was developed by a technical panel of experts, with a special emphasis on complex ambulatory orthopedic procedures. The panel considered research guidelines and best practices from a variety of disciplines. AAAHC has held several pilot surveys, and beta testing, to ensure the certification process is ready to be publicly launched.

The orthopedic certification has two levels: a specialty certification and an advanced specialty certification. The specialty certification is for sports medicine, minor and partial procedures. A surveyor will evaluate only the core requirements. The advanced specialty certification is for complex and more advanced procedures like total joint replacements or spinal procedures. To achieve the advanced level, centers must meet an additional set of requirements.

To be eligible for the specialty certification, a center must be accredited by AAAHC or some other nationally recognized organization. For the advanced certification, a center must be accredited, and must also have performed at least 10 ambulatory total joint and/or spine procedures prior to date of onsite survey.

The certificate is centered on six key concepts:

  • Strategic planning
  • Providers and personnel
  • Quality and safety
  • Service delivery
  • Episodes of care
  • Consumer and community engagement  

Dr. Desai said, "This certification takes your orthopedic team and provides a level of cohesiveness around the standards." She added the certification "helps facilities develop consistencies in care, which yield better predictable patient outcomes." As more complex procedures move into the ambulatory arena, many parties (payers, communities, regulators, patients) are looking for better patient outcomes.

Mr. Sparks had first hand experience with the new certification. To support centers as they attempt certification, AAAHC offers a series of coaching sessions before the survey.

Mr. Sparks said these sessions were invaluable. He said, "[Weekly calls with AAAHC] really helped us to see how the standards were intended and how we were meeting those standards."

After the one-day survey (larger practices will possibly have a longer process), the preliminary report identifies areas where the center is lacking. Mr. Sparks said, "We knew that day what we needed to improve on," and in his case, the center had an action plan put together before even receiving a request for a plan for improvement.

Mr. Sparks said the surveying process was "a good overall experience for us."

The unique aspect of the certification comes from the community outreach portion. The certification helped Mr. Sparks and his center get out into the community to market the program. He said, "[The certification] helped build team cohesiveness. Our team had a lot of pride, and when that survey came around, they were ready to show it off."

To view a video of the webinar, click here. To view a copy of the slides, click here.

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